Disney+ review: How good the new streaming service is

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So now Disney, too. Since March 24, film and series fans have been able to access the streaming catalog of a corporation that has bought up everything that has rank and name in recent years and has not been able to escape quickly enough. Mickey Maus now owns the entire Star Wars universe, the Marvel movies and series, the animation studio Pixar, the Muppets and, surprisingly, the Simpsons. At least the famous Springfield family is also included in Disney+’s streaming service. But with a drop of wormwood – but more on that later.

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Start with lightly pulled handbrake

While customers in America have been able to subscribe to Disney+ since mid-November, Europeans had to wait until the end of March. In addition to Germany, the new streaming service is now also available in Austria, Spain, Italy, the Uk and Switzerland. It was supposed to start in India and France at the same time, but at the request of the governments there, Disney postponed the launch in the two countries. In France, it is now scheduled to start on 7 April. The French government feared that the domestic network would be under too much strain, which is already heavily burdened by the Corona pandemic and its effects.

Disney+ is available in Germany, but at the moment it dispenses with the fullest resolution. This is a step that Has previously been taken by Netflix and YouTube, among others. Home office for students and adults is taking place. After the pandemic, however, the highest data rate is reactivated.

The technology

As a technology magazine with a focus on Apple, the focus of our test is of course on the apps for iOS, iPadOS and tvOS. How good is the menu? What are the features? How smooth is the stream? And how do the apps compare to the competition?

iPhone and iPad app allow you to download movies and series (Image: Disney)

Immediately positive is noticeable: All three apps are available directly at launch. Not all streaming providers get that. Formula One, for example, has been promising an Apple TV app for its own streaming service for two years – nothing has happened yet. We don’t want to start with the modest quality of Formula 1’s iPhone and iPad app at all, after all, it’s about Disney+.

There we go straight on with the positive impressions, because Disney+ offers a very practical function that we haven’t discovered so far at Netflix & Co. If you first set up your account in the iOS or iPadOS app, you no longer have to enter your data awkwardly in the Apple TV app as long as all devices on a shared network are connected. On the TV, the data is then simply transferred, you only have to confirm this step briefly on iPhone or iPad. The whole thing also works without problems on Amazon’s Fire TV (Stick).

Disney also shows no weaknesses in the rest of the features. Users can set up profiles (seven in number), also for children. Up to four devices can stream movies and series at the same time. There is a list function to store content. Movies and series can be downloaded from iPhone and iPad and can therefore be viewed without an internet connection. Intros can be skipped by button and the next episode of a series starts automatically. The last two points may sound trivial, those who subscribed to Apple TV+ from Apple know that not all providers can get these basics.

The speed of the streams is always satisfactory and the menu navigation is catchy. The apps look tidy and clear. Unfortunately, these points aren’t given to every streaming service, aren’t they Sky?


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A question of format

Film lovers can skip for days to the advantages and disadvantages of different image formats. We want to keep it short here, but we have to raise this point, because it is not unimportant. Cutting is also the right keyword, because that’s exactly what happens at Disney+ with content that is available in the (obsolete) aspect ratio 4:3. This concerns, among other things, the Simpsons mentioned above.

Disney+ trims movies and series in 4:3 format
Disney+ trims movies and series in 4:3 format (Image: Disney | Mockup Mac Life)

But also series like Chip and Chap from 1989 are remastered, so high-resolution and much stronger in the colors, But Disney zooms in on the picture to avoid black edges on a TV with 16:9 format. This only unfortunately truncates the image at the top and bottom. This is not noticeable in every setting, but a choice for the users would have been nice – which, by the way, other streaming providers make possible. For example, the recently released digitally processed version of “Master Eder and his Pumuckl” from 1982 can be seen in 4:3. If you want, however, zoom in on the iPad, for example, and make black margins disappear. But you don’t have to.

The content offer

Before we come to the conclusion, let’s take a look at the Disney+ offering. While technology knows how to convince, the catalogue of films, series and documentaries only partially manages this. Yes, Disney itself talks about more than 500 movies and 350 series. And whoever counts by hand will also come to this number. But what you have to keep in mind is that the number of really new content is quite small with 25 Disney originals.

(embed)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZaPv6-7Eto(/embed)

When Apple TV+ was launched, one of the major criticisms was the small number of content. Of course, thanks to its own movies, Star Wars, Marvel & Co., Disney is launching with a much larger offering than Apple. But if you haven’t made a huge bow around cinemas and the television program over the past eight decades, you’ll already know a lot of the offer. A problem that has accompanied Disney for several years. The Group only draws on the well-known and initiates little to no new projects. It may be interesting to relive old cartoon film classics as real-life film adaptations, but they do not win a prize for new and innovative ideas. Netflix and HBO are the much better places to go.

And even the Disney originals available so far – the content produced exclusively for Disney+ – are relatively manageable. Sure, with “The Mandalorian” Disney has succeeded in a really great series, which alone justifies the monthly fee, but users in Germany can only stream the first two episodes at the start of the service. There are more episodes at weekly intervals. In America, the series has long been fully available on Disney+.

Disney, however, promises improvement. The second season of “The Mandalorian” is already in the works and the famous Jedi Obi Wan will soon get his own series. But this is music of the future.

The first published Mickey Mouse cartoon
The first published Mickey Mouse cartoon “Steamboat Willie” is also available on Disney+ (Image: Disney)

Conclusion

If you don’t bother with the few new content and would like to see through all the old classics of Disney & Co. again anyway, you won’t mind the latest representative in the streaming market. Technically, the service does not show any weaknesses, apart from the decision to cut image content. If you are rather sceptical, you can sniff out the offer with a free trial subscription relatively risk-free. If you’re looking for really new content, you might want to wait with a subscription until the Mandalorian is fully available and Disney has produced and released more originals.

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Our recommendations

The Mandalorian

There’s really no way around this series at Disney+. Even those who are not fans of the Star Wars saga should give this space western a chance. Also because the series sets new technical standards, it largely dispenses with the notorious filming in the “green screen”. Of course, almost all stage designs here are virtual, but they are not only used in hindsight, but already projected on to huge video screens during filming. This makes the lighting on the set extremely realistic.

Pixar Short Films

The short films of the Pixar studio are also really worth seeing. With at least as much attention to detail as the big movies, the creators here usually show touching, funny and imaginative stories in usually less than ten minutes. From dough bags that have awoken to flying babies, everything is there. By the way, the short films are also suitable as a perfect little break in the home office.

Going on a journey through time

If you tap or click on “Search” on Disney+, you will also come to the “Explore” section. Here Disney hides a whole range of different collections. In addition to the Star Wars saga, the Prizewomen’s Collection, “Mickey Mouse and His Friends” and “Disney’s Journey Through the Decades” are also included. And it is precisely this collection that every user should have at least oneal browse through. The journey through time begins with the first Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1928 and ends with “The Mandalorian” in the present.

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